Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in the authentication and validation process of any website. You might have noticed that some sites may ask for your verification when you open them by popping up a captcha window asking you to verify “I’m not a robot”. We have never had to "prove our humanity" as frequently as we do right now. Bots and fake users are a problem that goes beyond simple IT and security concerns.

What are Bots?

Bots are automated programs created to carry out specified activities at a rate just beyond people’s capacity. They were basically designed to undertake and accomplish a variety of healthy tasks which were useful to people. But over time malicious bots were also introduced which offered risk by carrying out illegal tasks like hacking, spying, spamming, and negatively affecting websites of all sizes. Thus bots were categorized into two categories: Good bots and bad bots. Bad bots are software programs doing automatic activities like clicking on sponsored search ads or social media promotions paid by businesses, and they are often maintained by smart ad fraudsters. These bad bots mainly have the same goal: to harm website metrics, brand recognition and client acquisition rates in order to harm advertising and business KPIs.

Examples of Some Well-known Bad Bots:

Some “self-identifying” bots are found on E-commerce sites, on search engines like Google or Microsoft, or social campaigns like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
  • Scrapers
  • Sit-In bots
  • Critic bots
  • Cart bots
  • Long distance lovers
  • Returners
  • Heartbreakers
  • Chargebackers
You can get more information about these bots, please read this blog: https://cheq.ai/blog/bots-customer-acquisition/

What is Fake Traffic or Fake Users?

Fake traffic on the internet is made up of many types of internet users who are not genuine users and practice malicious activities. They fake actions like clicks, installs, impressions, etc. with the target of draining the ad budgets or to generate fake traffic. Some of the examples are:
  • Malicious botnets: The malicious bot activities have risen to a level where there are extreme threats of cyber-attacks, system hacks, system crashes, account takeovers, customer data getting stolen, data breaches, etc.
  • Fraudsters and scammers: Online fraud attempts and scams continue to grow every day like E-commerce fraud, chargeback scams, carding attacks, etc.
  • Proxy users: Proxy servers are tools for hiding a user's identity or location. VPNs and data centres are examples of common proxies.
  • Click farms:Social media, affiliate marketing, and paid marketing are widely affected by fake traffic. There is the illicit use of click farms in likes, visits, clicks, conversions, shares, etc. These controversial businesses, which are commonly found in developing nations, hire thousands of people to click on advertisements, interact with websites, create fake accounts, and carry out a variety of other tasks in exchange for payment.
  • Automation tools:There is illegal use of various automation tools on the internet like browser testing tools, crawlers, and scrapers, web aggregators, headless browsers, etc.
Thus the fake web, fraudulent, nonhuman, and invalid traffic is taking over the internet. Recently, search marketers have started to recognize the damage bots and fraudulent users are doing to their campaigns. The Fake Web has an influence on SEO and PPC leaders in ways that substantially reduce search marketing's efficacy. Fake traffic can harm a brand's online reputation and eventually reduce the efficiency of paid and non-paid marketing activities when it comes to a company's website.

Impact of Bots and Fake Users on Search Efforts:

Let us check how search marketers get impacted by bots and various fake users.
    1. Slow website:
When dangerous bots visit a website, they usually preoccupy servers by sending many requests quickly. This can overburden a website, slowing it down and complicating its navigation for actual human visitors. The website's ability to rank highly on SERPs is thus harmed, which can be problematic for major search marketing KPIs.
    1. Lower web page rank:
Bots and scrapers visit the website to scan the information and extract its data by jumping from one page to another and rapidly clicking on various modules. They appear to navigate websites more irregularly than humans would. Due to the nature of these behaviours, these detrimental automation tools can substantially increase bounce rates and spends less time on each page than an average user. These kinds of activities can lower page rank and upset and perplex search marketers when it is taken into account in the overall user behaviour on a particular website. Additionally, as a website's search ranks slip, it becomes more challenging for potential customers to locate the website, and businesses risk losing those clients to rival firms and other alternatives. A scraper can also trick search engines into thinking the original information is really duplicate content because its primary goal is often to copy content or data elsewhere on the internet.
    1. Keyword strategy is misled:
High click-through rates can at times indicate negative trafficking activities on a particular keyword. Many times digital marketers could be mistaken about which keywords are truly working best because bots and malicious users click on both paid and organic links regularly and in huge quantities. Malicious traffic can lead to the execution of poorly thought-out methods, which will continue to hurt the company's ability to attract quality visitors to the site. High click-through rates on certain keywords are sometimes regarded as a promising sign, but if a large portion of those clicks were made by fake users, the marketer should generally steer clear of that keyword.
    1. Hinders the conversion efforts:
The sales and marketing department of any company looks for prospect leads that can get converted into a customer. But fake website traffic contaminates every step of the conversion process. Fake users can appear to be real by interacting with websites, filling forms with fake information to create bad leads, engaging with content, and undertaking other similar actions like a human. The time and money both get wasted due to these unrealistic leads. Moreover, using inaccurate prospect data causes sales departments to lose significant amounts of time and money every year. By calculating customer acquisition cost (CAC) to lifetime value (LTV) ratios across multiple industries and comparing those results against invalid traffic rates, it was discovered that billions of dollars are lost in revenue potential each year due to bots and fake users
    1. Bots can hack the site and negatively affects SEO:
You lose control of your website when you are hacked, and Google does not appreciate that. Hackers often introduce dangerous codes or files into your website while hacking. This overburdens your website's servers with more data and may cause your page to load more slowly than usual. Malicious code used in SEO hacking causes a sharp decline in user traffic, low engagement, and a rise in visitor mistrust. Google may even remove your website from the SERPs to protect users, which would have a detrimental impact on your site's visibility in organic search results.
    1. Inserts virus in your site:
Bots can install several viruses and malware on your website and you can suffer from security breaches like stolen or lost data. Search engines display warning signs to the user visiting your website because of the virus present in it. This can negatively impact your organic rankings and website traffic.
    1. Negative link building in spamming websites:
Bots and fake users can perform negative SEO practices for your website. Under black hat SEO techniques, they perform malicious practices for sabotaging search rankings of your website. They perform negative link building by inserting your links into the spamming or non-trusted website. Google cracks down on bad links and considers your site to be non-trusted which will ultimately impact your search position and user traffic.

Final Thoughts:

Today, a significant amount of the internet is made up of spam bots, malware scrapers, suspicious human users, and other undesirable actors since we are living in the era of the "Fake Web." From harmless scrapers and crawlers to malevolent bots and false accounts, this incorrect traffic can contaminate marketing funnels at every point. Almost every day there is some sort of news of companies or businesses experiencing a data breach, customer information being leaked, or servers being hacked. Cubic Digital understands that abusive bot traffic can negatively impact your site’s performance and hurt your business objectives. You can get help if your site is experiencing unethical behavior such as a continuous drop in rank, decreased user traffic, and reduced conversion rates, we can help you. Cubic Digital is a well-known and experienced Digital Marketing Agency in Ahmedabad offering professional “White-Hat” SEO services to generate organic traffic and qualified genuine leads to your website. Visit us today to know more about us.